Report: Cutting Rice now would cause a $5.5 million cap hit for 2014

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At present, the Ravens have just three running backs on the roster: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and Cierre Wood. A fourth running back, Bernard Scott, is slated to be an unrestricted free agent.

In short, the Ravens would seem likely to be adding to the position in the new league year, whether via the draft or free agency.

Pierce’s future is part of this puzzle. He’s signed for two more years at low base salaries ($570,000 in 2014, $660,000 in 2015). If he plays well next season in new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s scheme, he’ll enhance his value entering his contract year. Whether he’ll sign a second deal with Baltimore — and how much he would cost to re-sign — are issues still to be determined.

And then there’s the matter of Rice’s future in Baltimore, which was a topic of speculation even before news broke of his Saturday arrest on a simple assault charge in Atlantic City. The 27-year-old Rice was held to 660 yards rushing on 214 carries in 2013.

Acoording to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, cutting Rice now would result in a $5.5 million salary-cap hit in 2014. Were the release to be designated as a post-June 1 cut, the move would save the Ravens $4 million in 2014 but count as $9.5 million against the cap in 2015, Hensley reported.

As Hensley noted, there has been no indication the Ravens would be looking to move on from Rice. But that the topic of a Ravens team without Rice is even worth pondering speaks volumes about the tough several months he’s had.